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  1. #46
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Wow, pretty wild game six of the NBA finals. After tying the game with fractions of seconds left, the Miami Heat won in OT, forcing game 7. Very thrilling ending. I usually only follow the NBA during the finals, but these are not disappointing.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #47
    Schigolch
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    Brazil 2 : Mexico 0, with a great performance by Neymar.

  3. #48
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    Brazil 2 : Mexico 0, with a great performance by Neymar.
    Brazil is very talented but also very disorganized.
    Hopefully after playing some more together the disorganization part will improve.
    But yes, Neymar is very impressive. I like Jo better than Fred as well.
    Brazil has a very dangerous, fast-reacting offense.
    It's the defense that is concerning.

    Wild Italy vs. Japan, with the Azzurri finally wining 4-3.
    And wild ice hockey game with the finals now tied 2-2, the Blackhawks won 6-5 in overtime after several lead changes.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  4. #49
    Schigolch
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    The Japanese played better, but they were very, very naive.

  5. #50
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    The Japanese played better, but they were very, very naive.
    Things have indeed changed for Italy - who would have believed in a score of 4-3 involving an Italian team at the time of catenaccio?
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  6. #51
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Great NBA finals ended tonight with Miami Heat's victory.

    Uruguay beat Nigeria 2-1 and is well placed to advance as second in Spain's group in the Conferations Cup. It was an interesting game. The latter, using subs, crushed the amateurs from Tahiti 10-0 (I fast-forwarded through it - this was a training session rather than a game).

    These results will make the weekend games a bit more interesting: Brazil and Italy although both already qualified for the semis, will probably indeed try to win their game, since the winner will avoid an encounter with Spain in the semis. Brazil got a big boost: Pirlo will not play, with an injury. Without the maestro, I'm afraid the Azzurra won't be the same (and Brazil does look superior, having dominated the other two group opponents much more completely than Italy did).

    Spain vs. Nigeria will at least have Nigeria trying hard, since they still have remote chances.

    Meanwhile the situation in Brazil is deteriorating fast, with the street protests that don't stop ballooning. Today the first death during the protests has happened, and the number of people on the streets was the highest so far, with lots of vandalism and clashes with the police.

    I wonder if FIFA will reassign the 2014 World Cup to another country. Today a FIFA bus was set on fire by protesters (it was empty, no injuries). The first time these people pierce the police blockade and stone a bus transporting athletes or FIFA officials, will be, in my opinion, the end of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

    In retrospective, it does seem like the decision of granting the Cup to Brazil was a big mistake. It seems like not only the country is not prepared to host it, but the population also doesn't want it and is actively demonstrating against it (given out-of-control spending to build the stadiums and infrastructure, instead of investing in hospitals, schools, security against rampant urban crime, and transportation).

    For one thing, I'm now rethinking my plan of attending the World Cup in 2014. Even if these protests die out by the end of the Confederations Cup, they're likely to restart with even bigger force when the World Cup rolls in (*if* it is not reassigned to another country). It looks like I'll rather watch the WC on TV from the safety of my living room. Pity. I was really looking forward to it.

    One interesting question - if FIFA reassigns the Cup, what happens to Brazil's qualification? They haven't played the South American qualifiers given that they are the hosts. If they aren't the hosts any longer, what will happen to their bid?

    I think the right thing to do would be to make sure the Cup is held in a country that will have already qualified (Hmm... the United States? ) so not to add to the group of 32, and then Brazil would go under special invitation from FIFA. After all, a WC without Brazil would be a lot less fun, and they haven't missed a single one since the first one - and nobody doubts they would have qualified, as they always do, had they played the South American qualifiers.

    Anyway, this is still an unlikely scenario. But if the situation truly deteriorates, it's not excluded. One interesting thing is that FIFA right at the beginning of the demonstrations issued a statement confirming their support for the 2014 WC in Brazil. But then, several days later and with the demonstrations ballooning to epic proportions and resulting in ever-increasing violence, FIFA has been strangely silent about it. There has been no further statement. One wonders.

    This first death (which occurred today in Ribeirão Preto, a large city in the state of São Paulo) has the potential to lit the whole country on fire. I can anticipate that during the funerals for the young man who died, people will make of him a martyr and will radicalize the protests even more, which will likely bring about more police repression, and an already volatile situation could easily spiral out of control.

    It's all very concerning.

    Who would have anticipated this? Brazil had spent the last decade looking like a country on the right track, and they all love soccer down there... I thought the WC there would be one of the best in history. Now, it's all going down the drains.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  7. #52
    Schigolch
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    This happened before when Colombia renounced the 1986 World Cup and it was then allocated to Mexico, but this was in 1983, and the qualification games haven't started yet.

    Now, one year before the tournament, I don't think FIFA will change the home country, unless Brazil's situation denegerated into something near to a civil war, what's look very unlikely.

    Not only the World Championship, there are also the Rio Olympics Games in 2016.

  8. #53
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Brazil vs. Italy - Brazil clearly dominating the game with 65% possession and playing much better but disorganized as usual - still, they have enough firepower and talent to be winning 2-1 so far two thirds into the game, and they had a couple of near misses, could have been more. What they'd do against a very organized team like Spain remains to be seen. Also, Italy is missing its main and best player, Pirlo, so it's not an Italy at full force (he's one man, but he is actually the conductor, so, a Pirlo-less Italy is really not the same team). A rather boring game is now getting a bit more exciting as Italy finally is trying harder to attack as they now are two scores behind since the draw favors Brazil. Both teams have already advanced and all that is at stake is who will get to avoid Spain in the semis. The winner of this is likely to play Uruguay while the loser will have to face Spain.

    OK, right now at 65 minutes, this is over. Brazil 3-1, Fred finally did something as he was rather underwhelming in the first two games. Italy now would have to score three goals to avoid Spain, I don't see this happening so the semis seem to be set now.

    Hm, OK, this is actually turning into an exciting game. 3-2 at 71 minutes. Maybe it's not over after all.

    Italy hit the crossbar at 79'.

    Balotelli almost scored at 82. Now it's Italy complete domination and Brazil is just trying to focus on defense and run down the clock.

    88' - Brazil 4-2. Fred again. So much for Jo's chances of getting the position (I still think Jo is better).

    Game over. Brazil undefeated for the last 55 competitive matches in home soil. It bodes well for the 2014 World Cup.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); June 22nd, 2013 at 08:56 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  9. #54
    Schigolch
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    Now, the semifinals are set, two great games with four World champions.

    Brazil - Uruguay, next Wednesday.

    Spain - Italy, next Thursday.

    I think Brazil is favorite over Uruguay, being the home team and having a better bunch of players, overall. However, we all know that Uruguay was there already more than sixty years ago...

    Spain and Italy is a closer game. Italy has a good chance of beating Spain, if they can finally field all their best players, though the European and world champions are still the slight favorites to advance to the final.

  10. #55
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Well, Italy's chances have suffered some big blows. Balotelli and Abate are gone, and Pirlo remains injured. I think Italy can only beat Spain if it is at full strength, and it won't be so unfortunately I predict that Spain will prevail again.

    Brazil should be able to beat Uruguay, I think, but like you said it's a regional rivalry game so anything is possible.

    But if things go as planned, Brazil and Spain should meet for the championship game.

    Spain looked vulnerable for the first time, against Nigeria. Of course they still dominated the game and won by a large score, but they also conceded countless near-goal opportunities that might have been converted by a team with less atrocious finishing. The Nigerian strikers were left several times with the goal wide open in front of them and couldn't manage to shoot the ball, in some bizarre mishaps (they'd trip on the ball, kick the ball into their other leg, and so forth). The Brazilians are much better finishers than the Nigerians, so if Spain concedes this kind of opportunity in case these two meet for the big final, it's not impossible that Spain will be in some trouble. Of course, Brazil's defense is porous too, so, we may see a shoot-out with a large number of goals.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  11. #56
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Confederations Cup, first semi-final, Brazil vs. Uruguay.
    At 52 minutes, 1-1.
    Brazil playing very badly. Uruguay seems to pressure the wings and shut down Brazil's usual passing lanes which has made of their dangerous offense a much less efficient unit. Uruguay missed a PK in first half and should be winning the game as they're playing much better. Neymar as usual had a moment of genius which resulted in Brazil's goal by Fred. Silly mistake by Thiago Silva resulted in Uruguay's goal. This doesn't bode well for Brazil as Uruguay continues to play better. I wish Brazil had Dante instead of David Luiz to give a bit more class to the defense, and I keep thinking about what Jo would be doing, although Fred stubbornly proves me wrong by scoring (today's was his third goal in the Confeds Cup).

    I hope Brazil will still win this, but definitely, they look a lot worse today as compared to their first three games. Will Uruguay again upset Brazil in their own land, like in 1950?

    PS - OK, the game got significantly better (more exciting) in the last 30 minutes after a boring first hour, and Brazil ended up prevailing with a late goal at 86' after they finally engaged in a lot more offensive moves which were lacking for them up to that point. Pushed by their supporters, they went ahead to decide the game, and did.

    So Brazil will play the final on Sunday 6 PM ET, against either Spain (more likely) or Italy.

    While Brazil can perfectly beat Italy again and be the champions, I don't think they'll be able to beat Spain if they play like they did today.

    So I think Brazil's best chance is to root for an Italian upset tomorrow, which won't be so easy without Balotelli.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); June 26th, 2013 at 09:16 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  12. #57
    Schigolch
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    Uruguay lost the game, with Forlan missing a penalty, and a thorough exhibition of bad goalkeeping by Muslera.

    Brazil playing a very poor game. I think I start to understand the reason behind why Brazil's game is getting worse and worse since the 1980s. And it's not only the managers, as was my conviction until now. Thirthy years ago, after such a display like today, even in winning, the crowd would have booed the players and the manager to death. Today, they were just crazy with joy...

    I think I can confidently predict Brazil will not win the World Cup next year, and the title will go to Argentina or to an European team (it would be the first time an European team win a World Cup in America).

  13. #58
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Well, of course the crowd was joyful. Uruguay is a regional rival, Lugano was running his mouth making fun of Brazil and threatening another Maracanazo, they are playing at home and want to play the final, therefore a win is a win. But according to the Brazilian press, the public was not happy and kept yelling the names of some subs they wanted to see, instead of the starters.

    But I think your conclusion about the World Cup is premature. There's still one year to go and they can still improve, and most times, when a major soccer power plays the World Cup at home, they are strong contenders. Actually some commentators were saying that the best thing that can happen to Brazil, is a defeat to Spain on Sunday, which will force them to look carefully at their own mistakes. A win by Brazil on Sunday will make them sloppy and over-confident.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  14. #59
    Schigolch
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    I think the problem is simply Brazil don't have the players and the managers to win the World Cup, and this is very difficult to fix in one year. A World Cup is a long competition, there are up to three elimination games plus the final, and I can't see Brazil winning all of them.

    The Confederations Cup is only a glorified (by FIFA) set of friendlies, and it doesn't matter if Brazil win the final on Sunday, or not. When real competition start, I find difficult to believe this team could really win. Of course, this is football, and anything is possible (even Greece won once an European Cup, and Denmark another, without preparation, after the dismissal of Serbia&Montenegro during the Balkan wars), but I will put my money on other horses next year.

  15. #60
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    You know, often Europeans say that this and that competition doesn't matter, "nobody cares." They say it of the FIFA Club World Cup, of the Confederations Cup... we have the impression that short of the FIFA World Cup, the Europeans think that only the Euro and the Champions League count for something.

    On the pitch, what we always see is different. These teams do try to win. We can see European players crying true tears of desperation and collapsing to the ground when they lose the FIFA Club Word Cup - so much for all the fan talk that it doesn't matter. That's what happened, for example, when Liverpool lost to São Paulo, or when Chelsea lost to Corinthians, or Barcelona to Internacional. I was at the time participating in a football message board and the Europeans kept saying all the time that the tournament didn't matter. I watched those games. Given the faces of the European players when they lost, it was very hard to believe that it didn't matter to them. By the way, if it truly didn't matter to the players, this would have been an utter disgrace. What professional player wouldn't like to tell his grandchildren after retirement, that he got to be part of a team that won the FIFA Club World Cup? What kind of lousy professional player doesn't care for being the world champion of his sport??? It would be utterly unprofessional to not care for such a thing, and in spite of what the *fans* say, it is pretty clear to me that it matters to the players.

    So, the Confederations Cup, while being a minor tournament as compared to the WC, is still an official FIFA tournament involving the champions of all continents. Make no mistake, both Italy and Spain are in this to win, and want to win. These games are not friendlies. They all had fierce competition so far, hard fouls, confrontations... We got to semifinals featuring four world champions. It can't get much better than this (except for the WC). This competition does matter.

    If Brazil wins this competition against the current World Champions, the vice-champions of Europe, and the current South American champions, at the very least, people will have to take them more seriously as true contenders for the 2014 World Cup, not to forget that they will continue to have the home advantage.

    Do you really think Spain will play soft, uninterested football tomorrow and Sunday? No, these are not friendlies. Another evidence of the same: Italy has played this as hard as to get three of their main players injured: Balotelli, Abate, and Pirlo. That's not what you typically see in friendlies.

    I don't doubt that fans in Spain don't care for the Confederations Cup and are more attentive to the U-20 in Turkey. Sure, they are fans, and they are European fans. They are in the habit of despising everything that is not European, except for the FIFA World Cup (well, it would be a bit too much to pretend that *that* doesn't matter). But I'm quite sure that to the players and the manager, it does matter, and they are not about to play this semi-final against Italy and the final against Brazil as if these were glorified friendly games.

    As for how much harder the WC is, sure, of course. But it's not like this edition of the Confederations Cup was that much softer, at least for Brazil in terms of group match-ups. They had Japan, Mexico, and Italy. In any World Cup, these three would make worthy opponents for the group stage (it would be considered as one of the toughest groups). So, they had the usual three group stage games (and they won them all, convincingly - and also beat France convincingly just a week prior as part of the preparation), and then two elimination games against the likes of the current South American champions and 4th placed World Cup team, and either the current World and Euro champions, or the vice-champions of Europe. These are not small peanuts. Sometimes in the elimination phase of the World Cup teams get paired with much inferior opponents than Uruguay, Spain, and Italy. Yes, the World Cup is two games longer, but like I said, not always those extra games will be played against teams with this kind of caliber, and some teams in the WC end up in groups that are softer than this one made of Brazil, Italy, Mexico, and Japan.

    Yes, if Brazil wins this, it is a good test for their strength.

    So, yes, they had a bad game today, I said as much. I'd say that if they beat either Spain or Italy in the final on Sunday, it does show that their are a force to be reckoned with, for the World Cup. (Maybe they will take their preparation more seriously if they don't win, but still, it's a valid test).

    Remember, even Japan and South Korea did well when they hosted a World Cup. South Korea got to the semis! You know, if South Korea can do it... what about Brazil?

    The country hosting the next one is none less than Brazil. It can't get any more traditional than this, they are the winiest nation, and they play at home.

    Think of the recent World Cups since 1966, every time a major powerhouse was hosting the tournament:

    England at home = champions.
    Argentina at home = champions.
    France at home = champions.
    Germany at home (2006, with a seemingly very mediocre team and a mediocre manager) = 3rd place
    West Germany at home = champions
    Italy at home = 3rd place

    The only exception was Spain in 1982 - but then at that time Spain wasn't dominant yet like they are now.
    Other than that, every time in recent World Cup history a major football powerhouse hosted the tournament, they either won or reached the semi-final and won the third-place game.

    So, dismissing Brazil in 2014 as not being real contenders goes against history.

    OK, you say, either Argentina or an European nation. Like you said yourself, the Europeans have never won the WC in Latin America. Never. It's not just the game. It's the heat, the pressure, even the refereeing (remember how the refs were partial for South Korea? Remember how the Argentinians even pressed their opponents politically in 1978?). You know, the crowds usually stalk the hotel where the main opponents are, and dance and sing all night long to destabilize the opponents and disrupt their sleep. It gets very wild, down there, during the WC. No, it's not easy for the Europeans to win a WC in Latin America (there is a reason why they've never done it: exactly because it's not easy).

    And Argentina? My friend, Argentina vs. Brazil, no matter what the status of Brazil is, will *always* be a tough match.

    The previous edition of the South American cup (the one before the last one), Argentina went with full force, with all the best players they could gather. They were highly motivated to win it, given that they have been having a long drought of major tournament wins.

    Brazil practically sent the C team. Argentina got crushing wins all the way to the final, and arrived at the final as overwhelming favorites while a C-team Brazil barely got there, limping. Guess what? Brazil won the final.

    There is no way to predict who will win, regardless of relative strength at the time, when it's Brazil vs. Argentina in a decisive game of a FIFA tournament. The heart and the tradition get to the players' head and everybody plays the game of their lives.

    So, don't discount Brazil so easily in 2014. They can perfectly win the tournament.

    I agree with you that they won't be the best team. But the best team doesn't always win, and factors like having the home advantage with all the wild crowds not only rooting for them during the game but also disrupting opponents' sleep, factors like playing in hot tropical cities while Europeans are not used to the heat (Spain complained a lot of their game in the Northeast of Brazil against Nigeria by crushing heat) do make a difference.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); June 26th, 2013 at 10:46 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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